Criminal justice advocates call for pause of court costs during COVID-19 outbreak

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Colorado State Supreme Court and Colorado Court of Appeals building.

DENVER (KDVR) — A coalition of criminal justice leaders has partnered with Colorado House Reps. Leslie Herod and Mike Weissman and state Sens. Pete Lee and Julie Gonzales, asking Gov. Jared Polis to minimize economic harm for people in the criminal justice system. They call for the immediate suspension of criminal and juvenile fees, fines and costs because of the COVID-19 crisis.

“Colorado families are already struggling to put food on the table amidst the worst economic downturn since the Great Recession,” said Herod. “Suspending these punitive fees will give the most vulnerable Coloradans a better chance to stabilize and recover.”

The lawmakers are seeking an executive order from the governor under the Colorado Disaster Relief Emergency Act.

Specifics of the proposed order include:

  1. Stop the assessment and collection of all criminal and juvenile fees, fines, and costs.
  2. Suspend all payroll deductions, earnings attachments, bank and inmate account garnishments, rental payment garnishments and property liens for unpaid criminal and juvenile fees, fines and costs.
  3. Suspend all interest accrual, financial penalties including late payment assessments, and other consequences (including revoking or extending probation sentences) for nonpayment or late payment of criminal and juvenile fees, fines and costs.
  4. Recall all referrals made on or after Wednesday, March 1 of unpaid criminal and juvenile fees, fines and costs from the Colorado Department of Revenue tax offset program and private collection agencies, and stop new referrals.
  5. Cease revoking driving privileges base on unpaid fees, fines and costs.
  6. Notify the public of these decisions so that families may plan their finances accordingly

The Colorado Juvenile Defender Center, the Office of the State Public Defender, the Office of the Alternate Defense Counsel, the American Civil Liberties Union of Colorado and the Colorado Coalition for Criminal Justice Reform are some of the 20 organizations and individuals supporting the request.

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